OK, OK! Bonds are about buildings. But asking the taxpayers for money is about accountability and integrity. In the past, what we've been told we'd get is not what we got.
We did not get a high school remodeled to accommodate 3,000 students, which is what was promised from the last bond we approved. They cried "crowded" in 1996 and wanted $48 million more for a new high school yet there were only about 2,200 students. "We can't build onto the existing high school - not enough room," they said. Then after the bond failed they built a 30,000-square foot tech center on that same 62-acre "crowded" campus that didn't have enough space for an additional classroom.
What do I want from a bond proposal? I want a track record of responsibility. But in my research to find out why we need an $18 million bond, I discovered from the school district's own printed budget that $300,000 less this year than last year went for textbooks - a staggering $50 per student in 1999 and a whopping $13 per student in the year 2000-2001. They said the $300,000 was allocated for textbooks in the individual budgets of each school. That isn't what the 1-1/2 inch thick printed budget reveals.
So are we to believe what we're told or what's in print? I want the two to match. The supplies and services category was reduced by 55 percent, but salaries and benefits increased while pavement cracked!
School officials also say we'd have to go to the Legislature to allocate more money for textbooks. Not true! The Legislature funds a lump sum amount per pupil to the schools, and the school districts distribute that money as they see fit. They saw fit NOT to do air conditioning or cracked pavement. They did see fit to spend 85 to 90 percent on salaries and benefits making Nevada the 15th highest in the nation.
There's not a textbook shortage? Some parents disagree. If students don't have a book in each course to take home, study, review and do homework with, I consider that a shortage. School district officials tell us the students have "access" to the books. I have "access" to the Smithsonian Institute if I want to travel there.
Electronic "smartboards" don't make kids "smart." Writing, reviewing, memorizing and the discipline of homework makes for smart kids. How can they bond for boards and not books?
Some groan that, "Textbooks are too heavy for kids." Learning takes work and discipline and without those elements, our children aren't prepared for success and survival in the real world. Get back to basics - reading, writing, arithmetic, textbooks and homework. Homework also keeps parents informed about what's being taught in class and can be a great bonding tool.
Yes, bonds are about buildings; buildings are about money; and money should be about responsibility - the responsibility to tell the citizens of Carson City how it will be spent so that what we're told is what we get. Yes, I'm leery about the bond and how the money will be used because the school district's past track record on bond spending - what they say and what gets done - doesn't look so great and neither does the veracity of the current budget. I want to see an improvement in the brain food being fed the kids, and I'm not convinced that an electronic blackboard (smartboard) is the answer. Guess we'll agree to disagree. I wish it wasn't so!